This week is Anger Awareness Week. Anger is one of the emotions you might feel when you have cancer and this is totally natural. In this blog, content channel editor Tania suggests a few ways to help you cope with any anger you may have. She also gives tips on how to respond if people around you are angry or frustrated.

We all feel angry from time to time. It’s a natural human response which sometimes hides other feelings, like fear or sadness. When you have cancer, you may feel angry because:

We all show our anger in different ways. Some people may get impatient or raise their voice. Others get upset and tearful. You may find you direct your anger at the people closest to you without meaning to. Being angry can become a problem if it harms you and people around you.

Waheed says it made me feel angry because not only was cancer threatening my life it was changing my appearance so my daughters would not recognise me as their mum anymore

Here are some suggestions to help you cope with your anger:

1. Don’t bottle it up

Anger can be a powerful emotion. It is important to be able to talk about what is making you angry rather than trying to ignore it. Try not to feel guilty about your angry thoughts and irritable moods. You can call our Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 to talk about what is bothering you if you find it difficult to speak to people close to you.

2. Find ways to relax

Learning how to relax can help you cope with your anger. You could try listening to relaxing music, doing muscle relaxation exercises and deep breathing. Physical activity such as walking, swimming or yoga can also be helpful.

3. Meet people in a similar situation

It may be helpful to talk with someone who is going through a similar experience. Our Online Community is a good place to meet people who may be in a similar situation. Or you might want to try a support group.

Carol says be kind with yourself the way you are feeling is normal and we have all felt like that from time to time

4. Write it down

Some people find that writing about their anger helps them release some of it. You could write a journal or a blog about it.

5. Use it to help you focus

You may be able to use the feeling of anger in a positive way. You can use it to help you focus on what is important to you.  You may find the determination to try something new, like a hobby or a challenge.

 6. Ask for help

If you find your feelings of anger are starting to affect your life in a negative way, you may find helpful to talk to a counsellor, or a psychological therapist. Your GP can refer you to one. You can also call our support line on 0808 808 00 00 for more information about finding a counsellor or therapist.

How to respond to anger

If you are close to someone with cancer, there may be times when their anger with the situation may be directed at you. This can be hard to take, especially when you are also coping with your feelings. Try to:

  • not take it personally
  • find a time when you are both calm to talk about it
  • look for solutions you both agree on
  • get support for yourself from someone outside the relationship.

If you would like more information, we have a range of booklets about coping with the emotional effects of cancer.

this image shows a splay of titles about coping with cancer and your emotions that are available for free from the be macmillan website

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The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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